A union that claims 2.1 members has filed a complaint against the Los Cerritos Community News for running an ad portraying a Cerritos city council candidate as a communist sympathizer, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports.
The Service Employees International Union claims to be the fastest-growing union in North America, with more than 150 local union affiliates.
Earlier this month, Patch reader and Cerritos resident Chris Foster wrote a letter to the editor about the ad and said the ad in question and other ads in the Los Cerritos Community News contained factual errors.
Named in the February complaint is Brian Hews, publisher of the Los Cerritos Community News, who said a disclaimer that ran with the ad indicating it was paid for by the SEIU was a "production error," the Press-Telegram reported.
The ad should have been credited to an organization run by Hews, not the union, according to the Long Beach newspaper.
"It's a complete misunderstanding," the Press-Telegram quoted Hews. "It was a production error. The people who came in here (to pay for the ad) represented unions and I just assumed it was the local SEIU."
The Los Cerritos Community News published several news reports alleging misuse of public money by councilmembers before the paper ran the ad in question on Feb. 1, according to the Press-Telegram.
The ad showed Councilwoman Carol Chen's head in profile, alongside heads of past communist leaders, including China's Mao Zedong and Russia's Joseph Stalin, according to the Press-Telegram. The ad called Chen an "agent of Communist China."
The SEIU's attorney sent a letter sent to the Community News on Feb. 15, denying the union was behind the ad.
"The SEIU rejects the racist contents of the ad," said Michael Cox, the SEIU's communications director in Sacramento. "It's important for us to make sure folks know that it's not us."
To read the Press-Telegram's full report, click here.